He has been called all sorts of names. He has been cartooned, scandalised, ripped apart, but he has plodded on. Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo has defied his critics from the time he returned home, abandoning his lucrative job at Witwatersrand University to come and “serve” his country. From the word go, Moyo has overshadowed everyone else.
Though not chairman of the Constitutional Commission, he spoke more about what the commission was doing than anyone else. When the draft constitution was rejected, he did not “disappear” like the rest of his colleagues.
He continued to write about it. Slowly but surely he outmanoeuvred ZANU-PF spokesmen, Nathan Shamuyarira and Chen Chimutengwende and became recognised as the party spokesman and “spin doctor”.
When almost everyone thought he was finished, he landed in President Mugabe’s government as the chief government spokesman.
Since his appointment, he has overshadowed everyone including powerful ministers like Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo, Finance Minister Simba Makoni, Industry and International Trade Minister Nkosana Moyo and Lands and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made.
Moyo, in short, has become so visible that at times he even overshadows his benefactor President Mugabe. The two-vice-presidents, Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda are no way close.
Now, he is reported to be sitting in the meetings of the politburo. This, for a person who is reported to have had no party card just a year ago, is quite remarkable.
In fact, most people believe that Moyo has risen too fast that he will fall with a heavy thud. But some people believe he has taken a gamble that could pay.
“Moyo is very cunning. He has realised that power in Zimbabwe is there for the taking, and he is simply taking it,” a political observer remarked.
“He has seen war veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi rise from nothing, with some people laughing him off as a joke, only to turn out into one of the most powerful men in the country. And Moyo has simply said to himself why not take the chance.” It is indeed a big gamble.
Moyo has no constituency of his own. Hunzvi had disgruntled war veterans behind him and all he did was stir them up and promise them rewards which they started receiving.
But at 43, Moyo can still pick up the pieces if he falls.
Born in Nyamandlovu in January 1957, Moyo is described in Africa Confidential’s Who’s Who in Southern Africa as a high-powered academic who was expected to eventually be offered a senior post at the University of Zimbabwe where he was a lecturer.
He did not land that job, but got an even better one. Moyo studied radio production at the All-Africa Conference of Churches Communications Training Centre in Nairobi as well as management and communication at the University of San Francisco.
He then did Public Administration at the University of Southern California as well as his master’s degree and PhD at the same university. He lectured at the University of Zimbabwe for a number of years and was head of the elections study project.
He was also a visiting scholar at Stanford University. He left the University of Zimbabwe to become programme officer at the Ford Foundation in Nairobi and was an external examiner for universities of Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.
He left the Ford Foundation to join Wits but abandoned his job to join the constitutional commission. With this background, Moyo has something to fall back on.
But before he falls, he will try to reach for the sky.